Friday, July 1, 2011

The Arrogance of the Academy

By Will Deyamport, III, MSEd

I've been told by several folks in academia that my doctorate (expected graduation date: June 2012) will not count. That it is worthless and not credible to earn me a post for a tenured-track teaching position. I've heard that from people on The, The HigherEdJobs group on Linkedin, as well as folks who attend or teach at traditional brick and mortar universities. Some have gone so far as to say that, if they were on a faculty hiring committee, they would throw a for-profit university graduate's resume in the trash. Huh?

The truth is the "top tier" research schools are made up of a small list of schools. The ivy league is made up of an even smaller group of schools. That means that the majority of people who earn college degrees in this country, according to the academy, graduate from "inferior" universities. Throw in for-profit universities and the academy is off to the races to point out how "deficient" of an education I am receiving.

I earned both my bachelor's degrees in Radio, TV, and Film as well as Child and Family Studies from The University of Southern Mississippi. With such notable alumni as Cat Cora, Jimmy Buffet, Natalie Allen, Bruce Aust, Nan Kelley, and David Sheffield, to name a few, USM has produced some talented folks - people who have gone on to shape and define the industries they're in. But by the academy's standards, The University of Southern Mississippi was considered a waste of my time.

That kind of mindset is beyond arrogant. It's sanctimonious and way off base. To say that about doctorates from for-profit schools or schools outside of the "top ranked schools" is ridiculous and doesn't reflect the real world accomplishments of their graduates.

Capella University's School of Education has an excellent reputation. Not only is its teacher and school administrator preparation programs NCATE accredited, its School Counseling program as well as its programs in Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (though not a part of the School of Education) are CACREP accredited.

The students in my doctoral cohort are professionals from across the country. They are principals, college coordinators and administrators and there is even a superintendent from California. Each of them bring their unique personal and professional experiences to the courseroom. I, for one, have learned a lot about the different issues and concerns facing both K-12 and higher ed professionals at every level. Likewise, I've heard about their triumphs and successes. And if they are indicative of the kind of student and education Capella has to offer, then I am honored to be counted among them.

We live in an ever-changing, technologically-driven world. Breakthroughs and innovations in ever sector (except for maybe public education) is a way of life. Yet, the academy and its followers are more focused on its elitist cast system, than recognizing and providing the kind of educational and professional experiences needed for the 21st century. Well, the academy can have their rankings. I have work to do.


  1. Great post. I'm glad I am not in your industry. In the psychology arena, Capella University has a reputation for delivering top notch psychologists.

    I've only met a few people that have challenged my "online" education. When I explain how many assignments we must post each week and that in order to write a quality post it must have a minimum of three journal articles to support my stance they realize I am learning more than the person that never opens a text book and only shows up to class to listen to the lecture.

    Times are changing. College costs can be reduced for the student when a big brick building is not required in order to deliver quality education.


  2. Jaynine,

    Capella does have a great reputation in the field of education. However, there are some narrow-minded people out there who won't view for-profit doctorates as credible. That said, many of the graduates from the School of Education are landing teaching as well as administrative positions at a multitude of universities across the country.

    Outside of an adjunct, I have no interest in teaching for several years, for crappy pay and little respect, just for the chance of landing a full-time tenured track position. I'd rather be a leader in an organization and teach 1 class to share my expertise.


  3. I found the same response a few months ago when testifying in court. The defense attorney asked me where I got my degree, and when I said the name of the school, he asked where it was. I replied online, only to be asked if I purchased my degree. WHAT?! My reply was no matter if I purchased it or earned it, I passed the state licensure testing so I must know my stuff enough for the state to believe I'm qualified. The attorney shut up fast. The people who believe an online degree is easy, obviously have not taken an online class. I attended college in the late 80's at a traditional school, slept through classes and still came out with a 3.5 GPA. But now I have sleepless nights getting my work done to the caliber expected of me and sacrifice for a 3.8. Online University is not easy, the people enrolled are just more dedicated.

  4. Riah,

    Thank you very much for your comment. Hopefully, the academy will one day get off its high horse to see the great one being done by for-profits and various other state and small private schools. I plan on mentioning Capella whenever I am awarded or praised for my work.

    How did you find this blog post?

  5. Great post! I have experienced the same in NYC where I actually had an educator tell me that my Florida education (BA in Elem Ed & Masters in Ed Lead) was going to be a big obstacle in finding a position up north.